Last week was a big one for aggrieved princes.
There’s Prince Harry of England, who decried racism against his wife, Meghan Markle.
Then Prince Hussein bin Abdullah of Jordan had to cancel his plans to visit the Temple Mount because he wanted to go against what Israel had previously agreed to, and bring his entire cohort of armed guards with him, in a flashy show of force that Israel would not allow.
But they both had their revenge. Harry and Meghan went on Oprah, and wouldn’t name the royal racist, so we can all play a fun guessing game.
And Jordan blocked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s flight to the United Arab Emirates.
Princes! They may be among the most privileged people in the world, but they’re just like us! They have relatives that make them uncomfortable and they can’t pray at the Temple Mount!
Correction: The second bit makes them like the Jews among us.
Perhaps the height of chutzpah in l’affaire Prince Hussein is that, thanks to Jordan, most of Israel is barred from worship at the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, every single day. Bonus chutzpah is that for 19 years, Jordan totally controlled the Temple Mount and banned Jews from getting anywhere close.
But the prince is sad he can’t bring all of his guards, guns blazing, to the very city from which Jordanian Legion snipers shot at Israeli civilians for kicks in the 50s and 60s.
The attitude, as if Israel has to constantly show deference and warmth to Jordan no matter what Jordan does, is rampant, but it’s worth remembering that Jordan can defer to us sometimes, too. It’s not as if Israel is the only beneficiary of its peace agreement with Jordan; it’s good for Jordan, too.
It’s politically convenient for many to blame Netanyahu for the deteriorating relationship, since there’s an election in nine days, and he has had so many other foreign policy wins lately. So, we have columnists expressing abject horror that Netanyahu threatened to block Jordanian flights over Israel in response to Jordan’s action, as if Jordan was being so reasonable up to that point.
Netanyahu has had his fair share of tension with King Abdullah and his father, King Hussein, but frankly, Amman’s attitude last week was not surprising, less because of something Netanyahu had done and more because Jordan’s relationship with Israel in recent years, at least publicly, is almost entirely defined by grievances.
In the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, Israel stated that it “respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem.” In other words, the Jordanian Islamic Trust, known as the Wakf, would be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Al-Aksa Mosque.
Jordan has taken that to mean that it can demand things like the removal of metal detectors from the site, installed immediately after a terrorist attack in which Muslim Israelis murdered two Druse Israeli police officers.
Plus, Jordan thinks it is within its rights to demand that high-profile Israelis not visit the Temple Mount, despite the agreement stating that “there will be freedom of access to the places of religious and historical significance.”
King Abdullah also declined to allow Israel to continue to lease small pockets of farmland from Jordan, as detailed in the peace agreement, further contributing to the decline of relations.
Beyond that, he’s done nothing to counter the coldness of the peace between Israel and Jordan, and rampant anti-Israel sentiment in society. Jordan has blocked the extradition to the US of Ahlam Tamimi, one of the terrorist masterminds of the 2001 suicide bombing in the Sbarro pizza parlor in downtown Jerusalem, in which 15 were killed and 122 injured; she has since become a TV star in Jordan.
A 2019 study by IMPACT-se, which analyzes the content of textbooks in the region, found “minimal recognition of Israel and the peace treaty,” which it called “cause for concern.” Official textbooks warn of the “Zionist Danger,” and describe Israel as “a Zionist entity with no rights.” One textbook expresses a “wish to see Palestine liberated from the Zionist Occupation;” another compares Zionism to nazism and fascism.
But not letting the prince have as many armed guards as he wants at Temple Mount is the real problem in Jordan-Israel relations.
Maybe Prince Hussein can talk to Oprah about it.